Prather’s Pick: 'Coyotes in the Kitchen' is an adventurous picture book

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My family members know that I teach Children’s Literature at the college and that I write a book review column each week so they’re always on the lookout for books that I might be able to use. The children’s picture books featured in this week’s column are examples.

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Diane Prather

A couple of weeks ago my brother Duane Osborn and my sister Darlene Blackford were in Florence. That’s when they found “Coyotes in the Kitchen,” a cute little picture book written by Kathleen S. Kennedy and illustrated by Bobbi Manning. Kennedy and Manning are residents of southern Colorado.

The delightful book is an Almarinda and Andy adventure story. Almarinda is a little girl with brown curly hair, and Andy is a little brown dog. (Perhaps there are other stories about them.)

The story, written as a poem, takes place one night when the stars are out and while the family is asleep. Almarinda is tucked in under her pink blanket, and Andy is asleep on top of it. Almarinda dreams about ice cream, pizza, cookies, a sandwich and a glass of milk. She licks her lips.

“I was itchin’ for something from the kitchen. So, I got up without a word said.” (The story is told by Almarinda.)

So Almarinda puts on her pink bunny slippers, and she and Andy head down the hall to the kitchen. Suddenly they hear the crashing sound of pots and pans and then “How-ooo, How-ooo.”

When Almarinda opens the kitchen door she is surprised to find coyotes in the kitchen, and they’re cooking up a storm. The coyotes, dressed in aprons and hats, have made quite a mess. There are broken eggs, spilled milk and cooking utensils on the floor. The refrigerator door is open, and cupboard doors are wide open. One coyote flips pancakes. Another cooks something in a skillet. Some birds of some type are in there, too.

Almarinda joins the five coyotes; Andy takes off. Almarinda and one coyote dance. Another coyote continues to cook something on top of the stove. The oven catches on fire. They’re making a mess, but the coyotes cook up pancakes, eggs and bacon, a standing rib roast, a pumpkin pie and a whole lot more — and they eat the feast, too.

But before long, the jig is up. Mom’s headed for the kitchen. What to do?

What fun, from beginning to end.

“Coyotes in the Kitchen” was published by Light Publications in Colorado, in 1998. You can find out more about this book by visiting www.coyotesinthekitchen.com. The ISBN of the book is 978-0-9802366-0-6.

This summer, my grandson Kenny Prather brought me two well-known picture books from the “If You Give …” book series.” “If You Give a Pig a Pancake” and “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” are written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond. Both books explore the funny consequences of a single act, like giving a pig a pancake or giving a mouse a cookie.

In “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” for example, he will ask for a glass of milk, but then he will need a straw. He’ll need a napkin, too, and want to look in the mirror to see if he has a mustache. And that’s just the beginning. (Can you believe it will even involve cleaning the house?)

There are at least six of these books, published by Laura Geringer Books. Harper Collins Publishers. The books are available in soft and hardcover.

What I didn’t know but discovered when I checked to see if there was a new book in the series is that Numeroff and Bond have produced a boardbook for young children. “Happy Birthday Mouse” features a little mouse who has to decide what he wants for breakfast. Will it be pancakes, a doughnut, cupcake, brownie, muffin, or something else? (The mouse is the same one featured in “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.”) This book is written using not-too-many words, a great beginning book.

The book is published by Balzer+Bray, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2012. It costs $6.99.

Many thanks to Darlene, Duane, and Kenny for thinking of me!

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